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Guilty pleas in Kohl’s customer reward fraud

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A New Jersey couple accused of defrauding a Kohl’s department store customer rewards program of $600,000 has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Milwaukee.

Prosecutors say Pavan Gurram and Vanaja Gattupalli used a computer program to steal cash certificate numbers belonging to customers. The Kohl’s Cash program gives customers $10 certificates for every $50 they spend.

Authorities say Gurram is a computer programmer and the mastermind of the fraud. According to a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence below the guidelines of about 10 years in prison in exchange for his cooperation. That includes helping the government locate stolen money in overseas accounts.

The Journal Sentinel reports the FBI opened an investigation after some Kohl’s customers complained they weren’t able to redeem their rewards certificates.

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